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Chairman Paulo (UK)

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Seveneves
Seveneves
by Neal Stephenson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Oh, so that is why it is called that!, 18 July 2015
This review is from: Seveneves (Hardcover)
A decent enough read if you skip the indulgent info dump sections in between the proper bits, like fast forwarding through the adverts.

If you have read Ark by Baxter or Red Mars but Robinson then you might not need to bother. Though the politics are at the immature end, somewhere near the Hamilton standard of 'governments bad and entrepreneurs good'. Though a (sorry) *spoiler* politician that does terrible things on Earth is not condemned for those acts, just for being a politician in general!

It is a long way to go to get to the punchline of the title.

A bit of a patronising lecture by a pub bore that knows everything.


Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch Book 2)
Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch Book 2)
Price: £5.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Ancillary Award, 1 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you loved the first one then you will love this have no fear. Ann Leckie can obviously handle the pressure of being the greatest living science fiction author.

If anything it is an easier read than the first book, as others have pointed out the more linear narrative used this time makes for an even smoother read and the chapters are so addictive. If fact the book begs to read in a few sittings.

The only issue is with the first 72 pages and the first 4 chapters. The early stages feel like a short sequel to the last book or a prequel to this one, or considering the social issues resulting from the number of scene-setting tea ceremonies, maybe a tea-quel? Give or take the odd twist, plot or character development you could almost start this from page 73 and chapter 5, when the real plot, beauty and genius of Ann Leckie kicks in. But then you would miss out on pages and pages of joy all the same and you would be an idiot.

Amazing, better than life. Much better living in the Imperial dystopia of the Radch rather than or own Imperial present day dystopia.


A History of Distance
A History of Distance
Price: £12.16

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bvdub making electronic music history, 6 Sept. 2014
This review is from: A History of Distance (Audio CD)
Ambient IDM god Brock Van Wey releases yet another masterpiece. Four epic, ever-developing tracks on the n5md label, all between about 15 and 20 minutes.

The quiet moments lull you in and then a beat or melody or voice completes the assault and you are utterly captured.

Track 1 Everything Between You and Me
Builds beautifully from gentle ambience to intense shoegazey passion and those hypnotic voices start up about 6 minutes in. Then the gentle beats kick in and the dreamy, druggy journey really begins.

Track 2 Silver Altars Run to Rivers
Symphonic and epic. The minimal beats eventually give way to full-on IDM/hip-hop beats, accompanying the trippy vocals and electronic atmospheres perfectly.

Track 3 Ghosts of What We Once Were
Contender for best ever bvdub track and worth the price of admission alone. Voices drift in and out of the gorgeous electronic sound-scape for the first couple of minutes, soon to be joined by a solid and addictive IDM beat and spellbinding percussive clangs. But it's the ghostly vocals that appear five minutes in that really make this track and send the chills down your spine. Just when you think perfection has been reached, another vocal melody is added half-way through and even though there's still eight minutes left it doesn't seem enough and this track demands to be replayed immediately. Don't worry a beautiful electronic melody materialises to ease the pain that this track will have to end at some point and the powerful beats and new haunting vocals will carry you into the afterlife or at least towards the repeat button.

Track 4 A History of Distance
This tracks allows you 5 minutes to recover from the intensity of the previous one then breakbeats arrive and so does the energy. The beats and the vocals will welcome you to the shoegazey intense finale.

A wonderful addition to the bvdub catalogue and a perfect mix of ambience, vocals, beats and melodies.


The Girl in the Road
The Girl in the Road
by Monica Byrne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Girl on the Road to Nowhere, 11 Aug. 2014
This review is from: The Girl in the Road (Paperback)
The reviews here are correct in many ways. This book is a breathtaking mixture of metaphysical musings and post-cyberpunk adventure in a believable, exciting and scary twenty minutes into the future Asian and African worlds. The story is split in two strands following a young and older version of the main character. This book just demands to be read and you will have to complete in just a few sittings. The author credits Kim Stanley Robinson and Haruki Murikami as inspiration and in fact this reads like a cross between Red Mars and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, so fans of literature or genre can dive straight in. To address the paedophilia scene mentioned by another reviewer, it is shocking and my theory is that it explains a lot about the behaviour of the future version of the main protagonist. Also, there no real Mcguffin to generate the plot, just a deep spiritual journey but utterly addictive all the same. In summary, a stunning book, buy without hesitation.


Evening's Empires
Evening's Empires
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Empire Strikes Back, 21 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Evening's Empires (Kindle Edition)
Anyone slightly disappointed with the confusing and misfiring In the Mouth of the Whale have no fear. This is a return to the brilliant post-cyberpunk space opera of the first two in the series. Adventure, philosophy, quantum physics, post humans, politics, factions, cool spaceships and AIs, melancholy - it's all here. Great stuff.


The Girl With All The Gifts
The Girl With All The Gifts
Price: £5.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Know what you are getting into: this is a book about zombies!, 28 May 2014
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Blurb and reviews maintained the mystery, so didn't know what I was getting into. Starts off like a twilight zone story with a few clues for you to pick up on. Then you finally realise it's a zombie book and understand you have seen everything before in any horror TV show or film. Oh dear.


Slow Apocalypse
Slow Apocalypse
by John Varley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.38

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life-affirming tale of global destruction!, 3 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Slow Apocalypse (Hardcover)
This book concerns a present day apocalypse (the end of oil) and that is the extent to which this is science fiction. Therefore Sci-fi fans that love a good post-apocalypse world and other readers that just enjoy well developed and likable characters that really grow and change as they face difficult decisions are both in for a real treat.

The plot concerns a screenwriter and his family plus friends and their extended families struggling to survive in California after catastrophic 'events'. Think TV show The Walking Dead without any walking dead. Apart from the fantastic writing, it really is an exciting and easy read making it very difficult to put down, the main reasons it appealed to me are:

1) People do not turn into Mad Max-style barbarians overnight. They still had concerns for others and even animals. Yes there are some bad people in this book and when scouts from the group go out foraging you can feel yourself tense up and really worry for their safety. But on the whole people are still willing to help each other and feel guilty about making choices that have a negative impact on others.

2) People in the group do not keep making stupid decisions just to create some action scenes. Young daughters do not go off in the night to meet boyfriends across town or anything. Believe me there is plenty for the group to worry about without contriving silly dangers.

3) People, both individually and collectively, come up with solutions for the short and long term rather than just accepting that this is the end of civilisation.

Highly recommended, a very good read. Scary and very tough things happen but I sympathised rather than felt depressed.


Jack Glass (Golden Age)
Jack Glass (Golden Age)
by Adam Roberts
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jack in Class, 24 Sept. 2012
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The book cover looks amazing and apart from the rocket ships, could be mistaken for non-genre literature. The three quotes on the back all mention the word "literary". So it makes me smile to think of a reader picking up this book expecting Ian McEwan (mentioned on the reverse), and discovering (and hopefully falling in love with) this political, techno, 100% pure science fiction novel. The inside jacket gets it right "From a tiny asteroid in the far reaches of space, to a comfortable country house, to a sealed orbital habitat, Adam Roberts takes us on a spellbinding journey through a future that challenges all our notions of crime, punishment, power and freedom." Get in! The book is split into three stories. The first is a very melancholic and dark prison tale, full of despair and horror. This acts as an introduction to the main story and longer middle section. This second story uses a common cyberpunk theme of warring multinational corporations and heirs amongst numerous others. The third and final section deals with the war aftermath and revolutionary activity against these vicious capitalist "clans". Funny, serious, exciting and thought provoking. The prose throughout is a joy to read.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 31, 2014 12:42 AM BST


Orchard
Orchard
Price: £10.65

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Orchards in the Musical Garden of Eden, 25 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Orchard (Audio CD)
The latest album from a true great of the British electronica scene and a very welcome return it is too. Minotaur Shock's work has been described elsewhere as "psychedelic", "pastoral" and "folktronica", but one thing for sure is how well the tracks on here are constructed. A great mix of electronics, acoustic instruments and beats. Best of all are the melodies and believe me this album is chock full of them.

Album opener is "Janet", a wonderful nine minute epic that does not feel a second too long, taking inspiration from Krautrock artists such as Neu! The second "Ocean Swell" has a similar driving beat but is less stripped down with more and more fantastic layers of sound added. The pace drops for the next two tracks "Through the pupils of goats' and "Too big to quit" but not the quality, the latter being a gorgeous slice of folk strangeness in particular. Fifth track "Westonbirt" is probably the purest electronic piece here and works brilliantly as a hypnotic techno track. Sixth track "Lending Library" is a strange and hard to classify song, upbeat, dramatic and quite weird. Seventh track "Quint" reminds me of an old classic Aphex Twin track, all addictive melodies, glitches, noises and melancholy strings - powerful stuff. Eighth track "Saundersfoot" has the most catchy, glitchy and delightful music box-style melody ever, one of the best tracks on a very strong album, definitive British electronica. Final track "Adventure Orchard" is pretty glitchy and experimental, not a bad way to conclude matters though.

Highly recommended album with "Janet", "Too big to quit" and "Saundersfoot" being strong contenders for best track. Electronica fans should not hesitate to buy, though anybody that appreciates melodies and meticulously constructed music should also take a chance, seriously doubt you will be disappointed.


Existence - Limited Edition 3D Cover
Existence - Limited Edition 3D Cover
by David Brin
Edition: Paperback

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Post-Cyberpunk Epic, 6 July 2012
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A book about everything and I love it. Exhilarating and utterly enjoyable. I really look forward to reading another few chapters of this book each night. It is a dense read yes but every sentence has the power to immerse you into a fully realised future. It seems to have split opinion on the Internet but I instantly warmed to the unfamiliar terms and ideas and accepted their use as some sort of poetry though it is not the that difficult to follow believe me. You will have to read this eventually anyway, I'm certain it's hype will grow and will be nominated for all the usual awards, so why not be one of the first? To give you an idea think Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix Plus: Includes Schismatrix and Selected Stories from Crystal crossed with Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, now you know how good it is.

Update July 2012
Okay, it loses mommentum half-way through, when the fantastically high-paced, high-tech thrills drop for 'worthy' speech after speech. It might as well be a different book after that, a disappointing sequel maybe. The message is drawn out from one set of aliens so long - about a sentence a chapter - that even I started not to care what they had to say. It is such a big book (in a tiny font) that I fear sadly it couldn't all be perfect. My heart always sinks a bit when you discover in the notes that various parts have been published before as short stories - that may be the best place to the read the highlights it seems. It does recover towards the end and even has time for humour to go with all the nicey, nicey hope. Couldn't maintain it's fantastic first half but still an essential read in my opinion.


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